Jerusalem in food, in pictures

Resign yourself to it: unless you eat a falafel pitta sandwich (very good from the shop at Damascus Gate, opposite the bakery) or a couple of kibeh or a 15-shekel arayes, food is expensive in Jerusalem.

We were shocked. The baker opposite the falafel shop at Damascus Gate sells four pitta for 5 shekel, which works out to 1.20 apiece or 35 US cents. That’s roughly 20 pence. In the UK, one can buy six pitta for 90 pence (albeit not fresh from the baker).

The baker also sells a different, heavier, more flavourful bread — large and slipper-shaped — for 2.50 shekel, which is about 80 US cents. In Tunisia, by contrast, the local bread — tabouna — is very cheap and plentiful.

A friend of ours, who’s been in and out of Israel for decades, has a theory that food and everything else is so expensive here because 40 to 60 per cent of state spending goes to military hardware, most of which, in turn, goes to the US to pay for supplies.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the souks are clean and well-ordered and the food is an interesting mix, not least the nod to the European roots of so many Israelis, with the ubiquitous schnitzel. Take a look at the following vignettes. The captions are as follows:

All photos: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Kaak bel-ajweh and bagala: Palestinian date-filled cake and bread

The exceeding popular falafel shop at Damascus Gate

The baker opposite. Note the name of the street — Khan az zait

Hard dry laban made from ewe or goat’s milk

Outrageously coloured, dayglo-bright pickled vegetables

A variety of beer we found in a shop on King Solomon Street near Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem. We found it interesting because, as all Hindustani-speakers would know, bhindi is the vernacular for okra or ladies finger

A hill of zaataar, sumac and sesame, which is meant to depict the elevation to Haram Sharif or Temple Mount. (Notice the replica atop.) Mohammed stands proudly by. The hill was built by his brother

Originally published at on December 20, 2019.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at